For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
We can measure the power of many things, but we cannot measure the power of God. God is able to do anything He wills.
What is true power? The first of many definitions in Webster says power is the “ability to act or produce an effect.” What is the hallmark of God’s power? Is it not God’s ability to cast out a legion of unclean spirits with His words, or to calm a storm by simply saying “Peace! Be still!” Six times in the first chapter of the Bible God spoke and it was so. His words call things into being, separate one entity from another, form and fill. God’s words are reality themselves.
Power is the ability to define and shape reality. It can come from a parent or employer. Reality can be defined by a mentor or a bully. In God’s case, He speaks reality into existence. As creatures made in His image, He lets us join in this activity. At the very outset, God let Adam name His creation (Genesis 2:19). God could have given Adam a dictionary, but He did not. He let Adam speak a name where there was none, and He called it good.
The way that we mirror God’s power with our words shows at least one way that we bear the divine image. These words can be highly redemptive or highly destructive. This is one reason we need to be mindful of whom we are listening to.
Perhaps the reason something seemingly as benign as gossip is listed next to murder in Romans 1 is because gossip spreads a false reality that cannot be undone. Once I’ve heard so-and-so is a cheat, even if it is not true, it is very difficult to clear his name in my mind.
Nevertheless, we can also define reality in redemptive ways for others. When a friend sees your joy in a difficult circumstance, your neighbor sees peace during a trial, or your coworker observes an inexplicable act of generosity, you can redefine reality for them. The actions are the scratch on the chalkboard that causes them to stop, but your words have the power to define what they saw and turn their world upside down. In Mark, Jesus tells the man with the unclean spirit “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19). The man could go and tell people all sorts of things when asked about his new freedom. Jesus encourages him to use his power to make clear with his words what God made clear with his very own.